Raw...and Righteously So.

I'm not a doctor...I'm not any kind of authority on food or nutrition. None of these statements, as they say, have been evaluated by the FDA and as such shall not be construed as medical advice implied or otherwise. Ok? So all you up-in-arms commenters can just chill for a minute.

Now with that nonsense out of the way...

I'm on a Raw cleanse and it's awesome. It started off as a month-long detox but then I fell in love. I'm not 100% raw yet, and I'm not here to tell you that you should be either - unless that's something you're interested in. Going raw, to me, is mostly about using raw foods as a tool to feel great, without depriving or punishing yourself. As we work our way into summer, a raw cleanse is a fantastic way to walk lighter, feel healthier and ground yourself. If it doesn't appeal...then move on to the next article! If it does appeal, I have some advice that will help you, as it did me, to get started.

1. Ask yourself why: For me the choice was easy. I've been rehabbing from a hip injury for 8 months, unable to workout. I was yearning for a way to challenge my body, change it, tune into it. When a Raw friend came to stay with me from out of town, she had only positive things to say about it, and for me it was a no brainer. I'm a healthy eater to begin with, and I'm already gluten-free - so it was really just a matter of cutting out the cooked (boiled/baked/stir fried) stuff. This isn't to say I didn't have to go through the detox part of it like everybody else. Headaches, fatigue...headaches. It lasted about a week before disappearing. If you don't have a clear motivation to keep in your head, it will be way too easy to get sidetracked and go get yourself a burger.

2. Do your research: Again, I'm not a doctor or any kind of authority. But if you're interested in this type of cleanse, there are tons of books on it. Go sit in a book store, pull them all off the shelves, and flip through them. I bought "The Raw Food Detox Diet" by Natalia Rose and really enjoyed it. Whatever book you end up choosing, I think it's important to follow particular guidelines rather than going into the cleanse blindly - being safe, mindful and self-aware is key.

3. SNACK. All the TIME. In my experience, it's the key to staying on track. I won't waste time naming all the obvious ones (apples, almonds, etc) - here are a few of my favorites Raw buddies:
-Larabar: Snack bars made from fruit and nuts...sooooo delicious. There are tons of flavors to choose from - my personal favorites are Coconut Cream Pie (I'm a coconut freak), Banana Bread and Cherry Pie. For those of you gluten-free folks, you're good to go with these, so dig in!
-Two Moms in the Raw: They not only make raw granola (2 kinds of which are also gluten-free), but they make really yummy crackers. I like to snack on the granola by itself or throw it in a bowl with some raw almond milk.
-Frozen Bananas: Buy some organic bananas, cut them up into pieces, put them in some tupperware and stick those suckers in the freezer. They're a delicious little frozen snack! If you're feeling ambitious and you've got the right kitchen equipment, you can blend them up into a raw faux-ice cream. I've never done it, but it's definitely up there on my list of top 5 kitchen fantasies...
-Organic Valley Raw Cheddar: They make mild and sharp - I'm a sharp girl myself. I eat it plain, I eat it with the Two Moms crackers I listed above. I live for cheese and this cheddar is the gift that just keeps on giving.
-Kale: My favorite green...what can I say I'm a sucker for some nice, fresh kale. I use it instead of lettuce in salads or if you're lucky enough to have a dehydrator you can make kale chips (I don't have one but I tried some and they're amaaazing). Kale is full of calcium, lutein, iron, and Vitamins A, C, K and E. Not to mention that it has seven times the beta-carotene of broccoli and lots of fiber.
-Righteously Raw Chocolate: Obviously we still need sweet things! At least I do...I can't live without chocolate. This company provides deliciousness that is not only raw, but organic - you could even say that it's good for you so you can eat more of it! At least that's what I tell myself. The caramel and acai flavors are my favorites.

4. Don't stress about the Benjamins. A lot of people told me to be wary of the cleanse because of the financial component of it - it has a reputation for being a very expensive diet. Well yes, it can be I'm sure, if you go all out. But think about this: while you're focusing in on the raw, fresh groceries you have to buy, you're cutting out all of the processed or cooked stuff which you undoubtedly buy more of. At most I spent about $10-$15 more a week on food. And believe me, I'm no richie rich - just a struggling artist trying to be good to herself.

5. ENJOY IT!! Cleansing, though difficult at times, can be a very rewarding process. If you love it, keep going for a little while. If you hate it, stop! If you feel ambivalent...well...maybe give it a bit more time.

Good luck! Happy food shopping.

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